Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)

Dr. Legendre's One Dollar wash (TM)

(Product name may not reflect actual cost)
    PREFACE: A recipe you might want to try... this is working well for me. Comments & criticism are welcome. Email: DISTILLER@ARABIA.COM

    Ingredients (with approximate costs)
    • 5 gal (19L) potable water (cost?)
    • 12lb. (5.4kg) white sugar (3 x 4lb sacks @ $1.48 ea = $4.44)
    • 1/2lb. (220g) crushed 6-row malted barley (1/2 lb = $0.50)
    • 20g DAP (5 t. = $0.25)
    • 10g Wyeast nutrient (if doing a good long boil, try using half this amount or less 20g = $0.64)
    • 3T. Acid blend ($ 0.25)
    • 2 x 5g Lallvin EC-1118 (2 @ $0.85 = $1.70)

    (Total cost approximately $7.70; optimum yield 3.15 liters@95% ABV or 7.5 liters@40% - about one US Dollar per liter of drinkable spirit. In contries where Cuban sugar is not under embargo (read: most), you will pay about half of this..)

    In a pot with a good lid, heat 1 gal. water to 142F (61C) and add the barley, stirring well. Cover, insulate with a coat or blanket and leave set for at least 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, uncover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil the barley for at least half an hour, an hour is better - 15 minutes before the end of the boil, add the Wyeast nutrient. After the boil, add another gallon of water, the acid blend, DAP (see note 1), and the sugar - 4 lbs at a time, mixing until all the sugar is disolved. Add this mixture to the clean fermenter, along with enough water to make 5 gallons or an original SG of approximately 1.105 (14% potential ABV).

    Take 1/2 pt of the new wash in a quart jar, and dilute it with 1/2 pt. of warm water. Following the package directions, rehydrate the 2 packages of yeast and add them to the diluted wash in the jar, (which should be about 72-74f) to make a starter. Let the starter work for about 2 hours then pitch into the wash - 15 minutes before pitching time, aerate the wash with a stone. Stir well and seal up the fermeter. You can further aerate the wash in the first 48 hours to stimulate yeast reproduction (budding), but not thereafter or alcohol yield will suffer. Ferment between 72-82f, the higher of these figures will speed things up. Hopefully finishes in 5-7 days at 14%.


    1) The DAP can (and probably should) be divided into three doses, spread out over the first few days of fermentation; seems like excessive initial concentrations of Ammonia compounds stress the yeast.

    2) Watch the pH in the first day or two of strong activity; the barley will serve as a buffer for the acids produced, but the pH should still be casually checked and kept in the 3.4-4.0 range. Potassium carbonate or calcium carbonate may be used to correct if the pH drops too far, but this is probably not necessary.

    3) Stir several times a day for the first day or two, until it is obviously working well - this is important. Later when the activity begins to slow, stir daily to re-suspend the yeast.

    Smudges Recipe :

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who's never had any luck (until recently) getting them to work, so I thought I'd share my recipe.

    From experience, its easy to make a brew that will ferment out to 10%, but to make the effort of distillation worthwhile, you really want something closer to 20%. Simply adding more sugar to a basic 10% recipe doesn't work, even when using a high-alcohol tolerance yeast. They seem to stick with plenty of sugar left.

    While Turbo Yeasts are great, they are expensive (around $9) costing more than the sugar itself. My recipe (excluding sugar) costs just over $2 for a 25-litre batch, and is a little more in keeping with the home brewing ethos.(All prices are in Australian dollars)

    Here's my recipe for a 100 litre wash
    • Sugar 28kg
    • Molasses 2.5kg
    • Di-Ammonium Phosphate 175g
    • Marmite 100g
    • Yeast - ICV K1116 35g
    • Fermaid K 25g
    • Yeast Hulls 25g
    • Magnesium Sulphate 25g
    • Baking Soda 25g
    • Tea 4 cups
    With a 95% conversion efficiency, this much sugar will produce about 14.5 kg of ethanol which is about 18.5 litres.

    Combine all the ingredients (except the yeast) with warm water so the resulting mix is between 35 and 40 degrees. Aerate with an aquarium pump and air-stone.

    Rehydrate the yeast as per manufacturer's instructions, and add to the brew. (http://consumer.lallemand.com/danstar-lalvin/danstarrehyd.html)

    Continue to aerate for 4 hours. Use a thermostatically controlled heater to maintain the temp at 25 degrees (once it drops to 25 degrees).

    I achieve the following fermentation rate:

    Hours SG
    0 1.110
    12 1.105
    24 1.070
    36 1.040
    48 1.004
    60 0.997
    72 0.990
    It's pretty much all over in three days, with the result best described as an unpleasant tasting beer, but containing plenty of alcohol.

    A breakdown of the ingredients is as follows:

    Molasses - contains sugars but is mostly included for its vitamin and mineral content. The fermentation rate halved when I didn't include it. Molasses is a waste product of sugar refining and can be assumed to contain bacteria. Do not dilute molasses if you do not intend to add yeast immediately as the bacteria will get established. This amount of molasses with this yeast does not foam over, despite the rapid ferment. Buy it from a stock feed supplier - 25kg for $22

    Di-Ammonium Phosphate - Source of yeast assimilable nitrogen. Its need is well documented. About 350mg/L of Nitrogen recommended for fermenting this much sugar. This recipe provides 375mg including the DAP in the Fermaid K. Buy it from Winery Supplies (www.winerysupplies.com.au) 1kg for $8.

    Marmite - Source of B group vitamins. If you don't know what it is already, then you probably live in North America and won't be able to buy it anyway. Often used in mead recipes. Fermentation sticks when not included.

    Yeast ICV K1116 - Produced by Lallemand. Alcohol tolerance listed as 18%. Buy it from Winery Supplies (www.winerysupplies.com.au) 500g for $35. Lallemand (www.lallemandwine.com/products.php) also market a range of distillers yeast. Danstil A is claimed to have an alcohol tolerance of +20%. According to Lallemand Australia the exact same yeast is marketed to winemakers labelled L2226, which is easier to obtain. I will try this yeast next. Keep it refrigerated in an airtight container.

    Fermaid K - General yeast nutrient, produced by Lallemand. Do a web search if you want to know whats in it. Buy it from Winery Supplies (www.winerysupplies.com.au) 1kg for $23. Keep it refrigerated.

    Yeast Hulls - General yeast nutrient, prevents stuck fermentations. Buy it from Winery Supplies (www.winerysupplies.com.au) 1kg for $23. Keep it refrigerated.

    Magnesium Sulphate - Epsom Salts. Source of Magnesium for yeast and plants alike. It's need is well documented. Buy it from the supermarket/hardware store/chemist.

    Baking Soda - Sodium Bicarbonate. An inexpensive pH buffer, but molasses, tea and Marmite may also do the same job. Buy it from the supermarket for $6.50 a kg

    Tea - Source of tannin. Often appears in mead recipes. No identified role in fermentation, but it occurs in grape juice, so included on the basis that it can't do any harm when I was trying everything I could think of might help.

    This recipe works, but probably includes excessive amounts of some ingredients. The annoyance of a stuck fermentation outweighs the likely savings, so I've pretty much stopped experimenting.

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